If He Dies He Dies - If He Dies He Dies - Friction Records 2005
6 Songs
Running Time: 25:38

Being from Muskegon, MI, you wouldn't think there'd be anything much to do for enjoyment...at all. Thankfully, If He Dies He Dies has taken this surplus of free time and turned their thoughts toward music. The quartet begins their debut with 'Police Raid Neverland', which spot-welds the fractured fretwork of Quicksand to empassioned hardcore screams, courtesy of guitarist/vocalist Brent. Truly, that formula's been tried (too many times) before, but when it's done so convincingly as done by If He Dies..., it's hard not to respect them for conviction alone. 'The Last Layer Is Paper Thin' introduces sporadic melodic vocals, and while they do well to provide the song some sense of dynamic, they're mixed a bit too far back to really reach out and take hold. At times, If He Dies... comes off like one could imagine The End sounding, were they a bit more concerned with tossing a groove into the song now and again. If He Dies He Dies's sound is firmly rooted in the tech-core scene, but any band in that realm who can pull off the seven-minute 'The Last Layer Is Paper Thin', and still make it an interesting listen has something worthy in the way of potential. Worry not, true music fans, for the dreaded "fashioncore" tag is miles away from anything this band produces. After the abbreviated instrumental interlude that is 'Nitro', the two songs that won me over to this band make an appearance, in the form of 'Hammer Of The Gods' and 'Rise Doom Claw'. The former pushes the duality of If He Dies He Dies to the forefront, with both crushing grooves and washes of melody, while 'Rise Doom Claw' burns with flash-paper intensity, scattering riffs across the landscape of your mind like fires on Devil's Night. When album closer 'The Count' began, I have to confess being a bit unsure. Once again, clean vocals had found their way so noticeably into the song that they couldn't be ignored, mixed low though they were. Now, it's not that I have a problem with clean vocals at all, and they would seem to work well in the spaces they occupy with this band. The dilemma is in both the mix, and in Brent not sounding completely confident when it comes to dropping the "I gargle with broken glass" tone used through the majority of the disc. That being said, the song does draw you in, and works as an exit point, letting you ride out on waves of fluid leadwork as opposed to breakdown-ing you into submission, as is the case with so much of the hardcore scene today.

At just under the half-hour mark, If He Dies He Dies has crafted an album of solid songs which capture the attention of the listener without becoming overbearing. Having seen this band perform, I can attest to the power of their live show, which is more metal in delivery than anything Death By Stereo or anyone on Equal Vision Records has attempted (and badly at that). They have the songs, they have the fire. Now, with the next album, let's see if they have the persistence. I, for one, fucking hope so.


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